Manager of student block 'guilty' of stealing thousands from owner

News from the courts
News from the courts

The manager of a student housing block was today (Thursday) given a suspended jail sentence after being found guilty by a jury of stealing thousands of pounds from the owners.

Bernadette Emerton, who ran Danesgate House in Lincoln, denied two charges of theft. She was convicted at the end of a nine day trial of stealing between £30,000 and £130,000 from the then owners of the building Northgate Property Management Ltd.

Emerton, 62, of Bourne Road, Alford, was cleared of a second charge of theft of not less than £130,000.

Both charges related to the period between 1 June 2006 and 1 January 2013.

Emerton originally admitted stealing almost £200,000 at a hearing two years ago but following legal submissions her plea was set aside and she subsequently denied theft.

This afternoon she was given a 12 month jail sentence suspended for two years.

Recorder Simon King, passing sentence, was critical of the arrangements at Danesgate House.

He said “I take the view that the systems in place at Danesgate House were woeful. There was plainly a breach of trust but this was an employee who was not provided with any training or instruction as to what she was supposed to do.”

The Recorder said that on the evidence he heard during the trial the amount stolen was at most £55,000.

He told Emerton “All of this took place a very long time ago. You have lost your good character. I see no useful purpose in having you incarcerated at public expense.”

Terrance Suckling, 72, who lived with Emerton at Bourne Road, Alford, and worked as a handyman on the site, admitted acquiring criminal property involving £30,000 belonging to Northgate Property Management Ltd. He was also given a 12 month jail sentence suspended for two years.

Jonathan Dunne, prosecuting, told the jury that students paid their accommodation fees by different methods including giving cash to Emerton. She then used some of the cash to pay suppliers.

He told the jury that Emerton stole thousands of pounds allowing her to live a lifestyle well above what she could afford on her wages including holidays to the Caribbean, Mexico and Turkey.

Northgate carried out an investigation and as a result police were called in. Officers subsequently raided the house where the couple lived and found £30,000 cash in a safe in the attic. Another £25,000 cash was found at the house.

James Gray, in mitigation, said that the couple were both of previous good character and they each suffer from health problems.